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North Suncoast: News and news

Pasco County's investigation into recruiting allegations at Zephyrhills has wrapped up with the findings sent to the Florida High School Athletic Association.

The St. Petersburg Times obtained documents that said former football coach Jerrell Cogmon, who was fired Tuesday, had inappropriate communication with Pasco players (quarterback D.J. Clower and receiver Chaise Dunn) and Harold Clower, father of D.J.

Harold Clower told the Times on Thursday that his family is being used as scapegoats to bring down Cogmon.

"Somebody's spreading a rumor on this guy to try to bring him down and I don't want my son's name caught up in it," Harold Clower said. "Any man would know in our situation after the playoff at Pasco, why would you try to transfer this kid?"

Harold Clower maintains his only contact with Cogmon was at 7-on-7 events and denies trading text messages or phone calls.

"The other allegation that people have been talking to D.J., texting D.J. and texting me, first of all, D.J. doesn't make choices. I'm his dad," Harold Clower said. "I look out for my son and what's good for my son. And me trying to transfer my son to Zephyrhills is out of the question. … D.J. has been committed to Pasco and everybody loves D.J. in Pasco."

Harold Clower said Pasco coach Tom McHugh approached his son, who transferred from Zephyr­hills two years ago, and asked if Cogmon tried to recruit him.

"D.J. has not been in touch with no coach trying to recruit him," Harold Clower said.

Asked to respond to Harold Clower's comments, Pasco County athletic director Phil Bell said, "I was obviously very cognizant of the affect this could have on the student-athletes. That's why I have never publicly named any students in this situation."

Cogmon told investigators Harold Clower offered him "lunches and dinners" and once said to Cogmon "we need to get you some kids." Clower denies those claims.

"Why are we going to be going out to dinner and lunch?" Harold Clower said. "D.J.'s done after this year."

Gulf hoops coach out: Steve Thompson has stepped down as Gulf boys basketball coach before ever coaching a game. Thompson, hired in July, was a three-time coach of the year in Mississippi and Tennessee with a 401-193 career record and according to Gulf athletic director Travis DeWalt, he was an AAU coach for Penny Hardaway.

DeWalt said in an e-mail the position would be advertised immediately.

"Steve Thompson … has made the decision to forgo his opportunity at GHS to attend to personal matters back home in Louisville, Ky.," DeWalt said in a release.

gator to Webber International: Former Land O'Lakes pitcher Zach May, the No. 2 starter behind Jason Garcia in 2009, has signed with NAIA program Webber International in Babson Park. A 6-foot right-hander, May started nine games last season, compiling a 6-3 record with a 3.64 ERA and 40 strikeouts.

Staff writer Joey Knight contributed to this report.

Video series

Our preseason football video series continues with our countdown of the bay area's top teams. Tampa Catholic is No. 6. Find out which team comes in at No. 5 today at highschool.tampabay.com.

North Suncoast: News and news 08/13/09 [Last modified: Thursday, August 13, 2009 8:33pm]
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